5 New Ideas For Using Shelly Devices In Your Smart Home (Now With Dimming!)December 18, 2019
Today on the hookup we’re going to take a look at the entire shelly switch line up, and I’m going to show you 5 awesome ways to use them that you might not have thought about before, here we go.
If you don’t know what shellies are, they are impossibly small devices that install behind your existing switches to give them smart functionality. If you think that sounds a bit like a sonoff, you may want to check out my most viewed video of all time which was a comparison between the sonoff basic and the shelly 1.
Back then shelly was just starting out and they were focused primarily on launching their app and developing their new shelly 1 module. A little over a year later and the shelly brand has absolutely taken off. The shelly app is now feature rich with timers, schedules, tons of options, and even in app automations, and their lineup of products has expanded significantly as well. There’s no doubt that Shelly makes quality products, but Shelly’s biggest strength is their commitment to listen to their customer base and work tirelessly to deliver products and features requested by the home automation community.
Here’s the current shelly lineup, not including sensors: From left to right we’ve got the original Shelly 1, the Shelly 1 PM, the Shelly 2.5 in both non-UL and UL listed varieties, the Shelly dimmer and the finally the Shelly RGBW2. Each of these devices has a specific use case, but they’ve also got quite a bit in common.
All shelly products use WiFi and therefore don’t need a hub, they can be integrated to work together via the shelly app for iOS or android, OR you can disable the cloud server and use them completely locally with MQTT and a home automation hub like home assistant or openHAB. They are still the only mass market device that natively supports local MQTT control, meaning you don’t need to fumble around with custom firmware or flashing, it all works from right out of the box with the factory shelly firmware.
I keep my shelly devices on my network of things VLAN which means they have no communication with the internet whatsoever, and they still function perfectly. However if you still want install custom firmware they are all supported by tasmota and have exposed programming headers so you never need to take them apart or do any soldering.
Despite their similarities, the devices DO have different intended uses: the original shelly 1 is the only shelly with a completely isolated relay, sometimes called a dry contact. This means that even though the module itself can be powered by 110-260V AC or 12-48V DC the relay has no voltage on it, so it can be used to switch low voltage or even simulate a button press like on a garage door opener for instance.
I use a shelly1 in low voltage mode to interrupt power wire going to my Christmas tree’s built in LEDs which allows me to automate them without cutting the power to the control unit since doing the lights default to the OFF state after power loss. Since the shelly1 has dry contacts I could have just as easily simulated a button press with the shelly’s relay to be able to switch between lighting modes.
The shelly1PM adds power monitoring, but at the expense of the dry contact. In addition to power monitoring the shelly1PM also features an internal temperature sensor that can shut down the relay in the event that the load on the circuit is too great. The shelly1PM’s single relay is rated for 16A/3500W, so it’s a great option if you need to switch a particularly heavy load.
If you don’t need all that load capacity you can opt for the dual relay Shelly 2.5, which is what I would consider shelly’s flagship product. The shelly 2.5 has 2 10 anp circuits with individual power monitoring, the same internal temperature sensor and protection of the shelly1pm, built in roller shutter control functionality, and is fully UL certified. There are two individual switch inputs on the shelly 2.5 making it even more versatile. The shelly 2.5 is the most widely used device in my smart home, here are a few of my favorite uses:
In my bedroom I have a DIY LED controller that wakes me up every day with an awesome sunrise effect, but since there are multiple effects to control and it’s nowhere near a switched circuit I would be stuck controlling it with my phone or amazon echo only. By installing a shelly behind the switch panel I can use the state of the attached switch to turn the LED strip on and off via an automation. I’m personally using home assistant to connect these devices, but it would also be possible to automate them directly in the shelly webUI by using the actions menu.
In my dining room I was able to repurpose a few light switches that were meant to control my porch and carriage lights which now have smart bulbs in them. Instead of getting one of those ridiculous switch guards that prevent people from turning off your smart bulbs you can use a shelly 2.5 in detached switch mode, this allows the relays to remain attached to the lighting circuit as is required by electrical code, but it allows the physical switches to control whatever you want like triggering automations to control other wifi connected lights in my dining room.
In my daughter’s room I took it one step further. The three light switches in her room are wired to her ceiling fan, her ceiling fan light, and a switched outlet. It always seemed a little silly to me to have to flip two switches to turn on the everyday lights in her room, and when she recently got a room makeover that included under bed LEDs and Nanoleaf light tiles on her wall it was annoying not to have a switch for those lights. Using the power of home assistant, node-red, and a couple shelly devices I can now flip the first switch to digitally activate the relays to switch on her ceiling fan light and floor lamp together, and use the other switch to trigger an automation that turns on her nanoleaf tiles, and under bed lights.
To add one more level of customization I also made it so if you turn on the nanoleaf switch first the lights will come on pink and purple, but if you filp on the main room lights and then the nanoleaf they will come on as warm white. Almost anything is possible when using home assistant, and shellies are my favorite devices that enable that functionality because they are simple, unobtrusive, and they work right out of the box.
The next device is the RGBW2, a wifi LED controller that provides pwm control for up to 4 channels of low voltage DC LEDs. The RGBW2 is the only shelly device we’re going to see today that doesn’t run off of mains AC voltage. Instead it accepts either 12V or 24V depending on the type of LEDs are are using.
Most people will probably end up using the RGBW2 to control LED strips like I’ve done under my daughter’s bed, but it can also be used to control 12V or 24V white LED spotlights.
Back when I did my initial review of the shelly RGBW2 I decided to test how it would perform with my DIY 8 channel ceiling light, and I was so impressed with it’s functionality and reliability that I ended up just leaving it connected. The obvious downfall is that there are only 4 channels instead of 8, but I connected two spotlights in parallel on each channel in order to be able to control all 8 LED spotlights.
The newest shelly device to join the lineup is the shelly dimmer, a triac based dimmer that connects to mains power and can dim up to 200 watts of dimmable LED or halogen bulbs. The shelly dimmer comes in two different types, standard and SL. The standard version requires a neutral connection like all of the other shelly products we’ve looked at today, and the shelly dimmer SL is the first shelly devices to be able to be installed without a neutral, unfortunately only on 220V so far, so no luck for us Americans on 110V yet.
The shelly dimmer can of course be installed behind a switch for more traditional functionality, but I think its best applications are a less traditional. If you install a shelly dimmer behind an unswitched receptacle you can pop the hot wire tab and have a single dimmed outlet where you can plug in a power strip or extension cord to dim multiple lamps at the same time.
But that got me thinking… why go to all the trouble to install the shelly dimmer behind an outlet if you need to install an extension cord to realize the full functionality? So I whipped up a quick 3d print to house the shelly dimmer and installed it inline on an extension cord. Now I have a portable wifi controlled dimmable circuit that can dim all the lights connected to it at once.
I’m using it in my living room where I have a floor lamp, desk lamp and two uplights that get turned on every day as ambient lighting around dusk. From 5pm to 7pm my family is still very active so we like these lights to be on at near full brightness, but after my daughter goes to bed my wife turns on the TV and I sit down at my computer to work on youtube, so we want the lights to be on, but more subdued.
Since these lights aren’t connected to a switched outlet it would require 6 smart bulbs to dim them, or a single shelly dimmer. I’m regulating the dimming level based on time of day in in node-red, but the shelly app also allows for dimming schedules and night mode where the brightness of a lamp is automatically adjusted based on the time of day.
If you are only trying to dim a single lamp the shelly dimmer is so small it can even be installed in the base of a medium sized lamp.
Before I end this video, I’m going to borrow a move from the Paul Hibbert playbook and respond to a comment that I know is coming, and that is that the shelly devices are more expensive than the sonoffs… and it’s true. But it’s not like the shelly devices are overpriced, or even expensive, it’s just that sonoffs are impossibly cheap. That being said, I think the shelly lineup is also significantly higher quality than sonoffs and the customer service is top notch, especially on their facebook support page where can regularly find their CEO Dimitar responding to customer posts.
If you have a favorite use for shelly devices that I missed make sure to let me know down in the comments. I’ve also finally set up a facebook page for The Hook Up where you can hopefully go to get help with the projects that are featured on this channel. If you’re struggling with completing one of my projects come on over and ask your question on the facebook page, and if you have completed my projects and you think you’d be able to help answer questions when I’m not around I’d appreciate it if you’d come and join as well.
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